Cheng Qian felt a bit embarrassed himself. He scratched his head sheepishly, constrained by the awkward situation.
Emperor Peerless found the younger man's silliness both endearing and sad. He saw a shadow of his past self in the man as well. In his younger days, Mo Wushuang had also felt this kind of helplessness. Without the opportunities that he'd chanced upon later on, he would never have gotten to where he was today. The sight of Cheng Qian touched him just like Gu Xintang had, back in the Tilted Moon Region.
Though Mo Wushuang appeared rough around the edges, he was actually a very sensitive man and easily became emotional.
"Young lord Zhen, the world is a much crueler place for wandering cultivators. Cheng Qian happening upon this spirit herb means that he's one of the lucky ones. Since he's come so sincerely to trade the Ganoderma with us, do you mind helping him a bit?"
Emperor Peerless was now making a more personal request on his junior's behalf. The junior wandering cultivator had never thought that his great senior would do this. The gesture greatly warmed Cheng Qian's heart.
Jiang Chen inclined his head slightly. "Even if Emperor Peerless hadn't interceded, Cheng Qian, there's no reason for me to refuse your very reasonable request. Tell me, what kind of need do you have?"
Cheng Qian thought about it a little. "I think, if… if I can try breaking through to emperor realm just once in my life, I'd laugh myself awake at night."
For most wandering cultivators, emperor realm was a place forever beyond their grasp. Even earth sage realm, like Cheng Qian was currently, was an impossible task for many.
The world of martial dao was a harsh place with each level was more difficult than the last. In this world, emperor realm was already a rather high peak. Countless cultivators found that it was essentially unreachable. Only a very few could enjoy the scenery from the top.
Evidently, Cheng Qian wasn't a part of this latter group. He could only look up longingly from below. Though he was already an earth sage realm cultivator, Cheng Qian knew himself better than anybody. He wasn't particularly old, but he'd dug out most of his martial dao potential.
Without a special opportunity or three, he would at most get to sky sage realm in this life. In light of this, Cheng Qian had mustered up all his courage to make his request when faced with this rare opportunity. Getting to emperor realm was his life's greatest wish.
Seeing that young lord Zhen's prolonged silence, Cheng Qian began to panic. "Young lord Zhen, I know my demand is a bit unreasonable. I… I only wanted a chance at breaking through to emperor realm. It's fine even if I fail."
He hurried to explain himself, worried that he'd be thrown out.
Jiang Chen didn't reply to the man directly. Instead, he turned toward Emperor Peerless and the Jiao brothers with a serene smile. "Gentlemen, how do you feel about Cheng Qian's potential?"
Mo Wushuang was brutally honest. "Optimistically? I think ninth level sage realm is his limit.
Jiao Yun nodded. "I agree. He doesn't have much more potential left."
"Did you hear that, Cheng Qian?" Jiang Chen laughed.
The earth sage realm cultivator looked quite down. Hearing the wandering great emperors' analysis painted a rather grim future for him.
"I spoke out of line, young lord Zhen." Cheng Qian conceded sadly.
"Haha, that's what anyone would think from an ordinary perspective. However, if I am to trade with you, I must fulfill your wish in earnest - for the sake of the Heavencloud Ganoderma, if nothing else. How can I honestly accept your treasure otherwise?"
Jiang Chen's declaration was absolutely stunning. Everyone tried to guess at what he meant. Did young lord Zhen have another way?
Emperor Peerless suddenly thought of something, his gaze brightening.
"Cheng Qian, you should thank young lord Zhen." Out of nowhere, the emperor slapped his thigh.
Cheng Qian was astonished, but he was clever enough to understand what that meant: perhaps there was something more to things! He knelt on one knee without hesitation. "Thank you so much for your charity and grace, young lord Zhen."
Jiang Chen flashed an easy smile. "Old Brother Mo, you really are one of the six titans, huh? You always take extra care of our wandering cultivator friends. Cheng Qian, I'll grant you an opportunity that gives you the chance to break through to emperor realm. I'll also give you some pills to help you in your attempt. In exchange, Sacred Peafowl Mountain will take the Heavencloud Ganoderma. Do you have any problems with this deal?"
"None whatsoever," Cheng Qian denied hastily.
"Even so, I've benefited far more than you in this deal," Jiang Chen smiled. "How about this. When you get to emperor realm someday, come to Sacred Peafowl Mountain again. I'll give you another opportunity. How does that sound to you?"
Though the young lord wasn't specific about what he was going to give, a promise from both Sacred Peafowl Mountain and Veluriyam Capital was nothing to be taken lightly.
"Truly, young lord Zhen, a thousand thanks for your generosity and benevolence. I'll never forget it as long as I live!" These words came from the bottom of Cheng Qian's heart.
"I don't think I'm being overly generous or benevolent, really. Your ownership of the Heavencloud Ganoderma is the origin of your luck. I've always put an emphasis on fair dealing, so I can't exactly take advantage of you now, can I?" Jiang Chen chuckled before continuing.
"Spend a few days here. I'll have your accommodations arranged. If you're concerned about your safety, I'll ask Old Brother Mo to look after you personally. Aside from that, here's a batch of Heroic Sage Pills, a single Sage Smile Pill, and a selection of sage realm cultivation resources. Take them. They should help immensely in your road to emperor realm."
Jiang Chen had no shortage of Heroic Sage Pills. Back in his Mt. Rippling Mirage days, he'd gotten his hands on a huge number of Sage Fledgling Grass specimens. A ton of Heroic Sage Pills had come of that lucky find. These pills were extremely beneficial to cultivation in the sage realm. Though their effects became less pronounced later on, they were still exceptionally important for wandering cultivators such as Cheng Qian.
The Sage Smile Pills used the Radiant Celestial Grass as its main material. Jiang Chen also had an equally sizable assortment of said pill. The pill granted Cheng Qian a free level in the sage realm.
Thus, those three words instantly got Cheng Qian's attention. His hands shivered as he accepted Jiang Chen's items. Currently, he was peak earth sage realm at the sixth level. He'd been stuck at earth sage realm's peak for many years now. He hadn't been able to try for sky sage realm all this time.
The Sage Smile Pill was surely the impetus that would allow him to finally get there! Once he was there, he would be on an entirely different level. It would be the platform that allowed him to touch the threshold of emperor realm!
The excitement on Cheng Qian's face made Jiang Chen sigh with wonder. Wandering cultivators, huh… the things I gave him were fully traded for with his treasure, but he still feels tremendously grateful for some reason. Honestly, I'm still the one coming out ahead in this deal after all that.
The actual value of the Heavencloud Ganoderma was equivalent to five sky rank spirit herbs. After totaling things up up, the things that Jiang Chen had given Cheng Qian were worth only one.
The deal wasn't what made Cheng Qian happy, however. It was that Jiang Chen was giving him the opportunity to break through to emperor realm. For cultivators at the extent of their potentials, this was the greatest gift of all.
From his position, Cheng Qian had made the correct choice. If he couldn't improve his strength, the value of the Heavencloud Ganoderma was meaningless; none of it could really be actualized.
If kept on him, the herb was as good as wasted. If traded anywhere else, there was no guarantee of making it out with one's skin intact, much less making a fair trade. At least with Sacred Peafowl Mountain, there was no risk of the former. Moreover, the items received in exchanged were materially useful. In light of that, what was there to be displeased about?
Jiang Chen called for Gouyu once more, notifying her of Cheng Qian's temporary stay.
After he saw the wandering cultivator off, everyone around him saluted with cupped fist. "Congratulations, young lord. The Heavencloud Ganoderma is finally in deserving hands. There's no doubt that it would be a horrendous waste anywhere else."
Everyone had heard of the intended purpose for the Heavencloud Ganoderma. The Emperor Supremacy Pill!
No one had heard of such a pill before. Its miraculous properties were enough to set their hearts aflame. There was also a strong curiosity about something hitherto unknown.
"Young lord Zhen, can you really refine the Emperor Supremacy Pill that you spoke about during the treasure identification?" Emperor Coiling Dragon inquired piously.
Emperor Peerless and the Jiao brothers looked longingly at the young lord as well, interested in hearing a confident answer.
"The Emperor Supremacy Pill is a real pill." Jiang Chen was completely aboveboard with them. "And yes, the Heavencloud Ganoderma is the main ingredient. It's all true."
His audience was overjoyed. Emperor Coiling Dragon especially so, since he was initial great emperor realm. Presently, he was the weakest among the great emperors at Sacred Peafowl Mountain. His desire to increase his strength was more fervent than anyone else's. Therefore, he thirsted the most after the Emperor Supremacy Pill's effects.
"If the Heavencloud Ganoderma was allowed to grow for another thousand years, it would be worth even more. Alas, it's a bit on the young side. If one can be found that's more than three thousand years old, then we'll truly have a perfect cauldron of Emperor Supremacy Pills!" Jiang Chen felt that it was somewhat of a pity.
Emperor Coiling Dragon slapped his thigh. "If you'll let me, young lord Zhen," he chuckled, "I'd like to reserve an Emperor Supremacy Pill. The Coiling Dragon clan is willing to pay any price you name."
Emperor Peerless and the Jiao brothers wanted the pill just as badly, but it wasn't appropriate yet for them to ask for one. After all, they'd followed Jiang Chen for only a short while. On the other hand, Emperor Coiling Dragon was one of Sacred Peafowl Mountain's staunchest, direct supporters.
Furthermore, Emperor Peerless still had the kunpeng bloodline that Jiang Chen had given him. He had greater goals than the Emperor Supremacy Pill and didn't need it nearly as badly as the others. He had set his eyes on breaking through to empyrean realm instead.
The Jiao brothers genuinely craved the Emperor Supremacy Pill, but they'd joined up only recently and had already received advice from Jiang Chen about their martial techniques to boot. They couldn't work up the thick skin they needed to open their mouths.
"Of course I can, Emperor Coiling Dragon," Jiang Chen laughed. "The Ganoderma isn't mature enough, so I think I'd only get two pills out of it. Still, if everything goes perfectly, a third is potentially possible."
"Haha, your pill dao prowess is unmatched. I'm sure you'll have no problem getting three, young lord!" Emperor Coiling Dragon engaged in some shameless flattery.